Real Fermenting: July 2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Juniper and Caraway Sauerkraut Update

Definitely undersold is how I would describe this spiced juniper and caraway sauerkraut. I used 1 tsp of caraways seeds and about 6 juniper berries for one whole cabbage. Next time I experiment with this recipe, I'm thinking that I'll try doubling the spice level. I could also try lightly crushing the seeds to release more flavor into the brine.

Decanted sauerkraut ready to be put into a jar

Friday, 27 July 2012

Our Microbiome

We have all been trained from an early age to be scared of microorganisms. We know to wash our hands and to cook our food thoroughly and to throw out moldy cheese. I can remember from around the age of 10 struggling with an overly developed sense of contamination. I thought that bacteria or whatever could quickly travel from one part of my body to another, so if, say, my elbow touched something gross, I should wash my hands before eating. Everything was dirty by association. At some point, I realized that bacteria couldn't zoom down my arm at the speed of light and so began my critical approach to our modern sensibilities on contamination.

Today, we are learning more every day about the vital role that microorganisms play in our health as humans. In fact, I would question even the extent to which we should call what moves when I take a step a "human".


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Spent Grain Bread

Really excited to share this recipe with you, because my home is filled with the delightful aroma of fresh bread right now. And what's better is it's recycled grain from the Robust Porter I just made. This bread used a sponge method, wherein part of the dough is prefermented for 24 hours or so.

Must. Resist. Slicing. Bread

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pale Ale Tasting Notes

My original hopped beer has now all been drunk. It was a Pale Ale, intended to be an American Pale Ale, which turned out a little more like an English Pale Ale. Insert joke about me being British and living in California here.

It does exactly what it says

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Real Fermenting Manifesto

Real fermenting is a cultural essential. Every society around the world engages in this primary and deep practice. From the pit-fermented "cheese-like" fish-egg ferments of the Yupik to the dried fermented greens of Nepal, humans in every corner of our world engage in some form of fermentation. This website and my fermentation practice is informed by and inspired by this global microbiological universal.

Brew Projects

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Robust Porter - Steeped Grains

Steeping grains is a easy way to get some extra color, body and flavor into your beer.  In this recipe for a Robust Porter, I use a CaraMunich grain and a Chocolate Malt grain. You can buy these premilled from homebrew supply stores. I order mine from the Seven Bridges Cooperative in Santa Cruz. They have a special this month on any organic product (15% off). I'm not associated with them - it's just a great deal.

This brew represents the next step up in complexity from an all-extract brew. I wrote about that simple method when I brewed a Pale Ale - which turned out a little weak in body. After the steeped grain/extract brew comes a partial mash brew. Later in the week, I'm going to write up a partial mash California Pale Ale, which I also made today.
Weyermann CaraMunich (5oz) and Briess Chocolate Malt (4oz) grains

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pale Ale Update

The pale ale is in bottles now, for at least a week. After one week and a day in the Better Bottle, I could see that fermentation had practically stopped. No more bubbles were traveling up the side of the bottle and the beer was even starting to clear. In this post, I describe how to estimate the alcoholic content of your brewed beverages.

Measuring the final gravity of the beer

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Juniper and Caraway Sauerkraut

Traditional spices, traditional technique. That's what this juniper and caraway sauerkraut recipe is all about. These spices feature often together in German cooking.

The spices resting gently on the surface of the sauerkraut

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Cider Four Ways

This is an experiment in bottle flavoring. I am making a 1 gallon batch of plain hard apple cider. Following the Strong Waters recipe for hard apple cider, I put 1 gallon of apple juice (organic, pasteurized, no need to heat it to sterilize) into my primary fermenter. To that juice, I added 1tsp yeast nutrient, 1/2tsp pectin enzyme and 3/4 cup sugar. Stir the juice and add a packet of Premier Cuvee. Airlock your fermenter and leave that for about a week until it has finished fermenting. Then we get to the interesting part of this experiment. Making Plain Cider, Chai-der, Ginger Cider and Earl Grey Cider in the bottle.

Oh no! - Bottle Imperfection

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Beet-Cranberry Sauerkraut Update

As I predicted, this beet-cranberry sauerkraut has turned out amazing. The sauerkraut juice is syrupy and rich and vivid. I feel I could paint with it. The beet has stayed a little crunchier than the cabbage, but, as it makes up less of the total bulk, the whole has a very pleasant texture after 8 days at around 70-80F.

Real Fermenting's initials, in beety brine

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


This kombucha brewing kit from Williams-Sonoma costs $70. I am sure it would be very useful. It's also about $60 more than these instructions would cost you, including buying the glass jars.

Culturing the kombucha - 5 days in
These are the simplest instructions on the web for making kombucha from the store-bought bottled beverage, so you'll excuse the lack of prose here. I'll try to be methodical and precise and concise. There are three distinct stages: Culturing, Feeding Up, and Brewing. Do everything precisely as I write it. I can explain why things are the way they are in the comments, if you have questions, or in another post. In-line explanations cause everyone else to write an epic poem about Russian grandmothers, so stay here for the exact way to make kombucha from store-bought kombucha drink.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Bottling the Blackpeach Gruit Ale

In the absence of any inspiration, I decided on Blackpeach Gruit Ale as the name for this brew. It smells pretty awesome at this stage. In this article, I will bring you through a basic and sanitary bottling process. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than this.
Aaah, waiting bottles!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pale Ale

This is a recipe for 1 gallon of Pale Ale. It is pretty unusual to see 1 gallon recipes online, but as it is part of my philosophy to make small batches, I have had to learn how to convert things into smaller brews. Small batches encourage experimentation, and do not cost too much if the experiment goes bad. Another part of my philosophy is simplicity. To that end, this brew is made from malt extract (rather than whole grains), but with pellet hops. That means we are free to try different combinations and amounts of hops, while maintaining a fairly simple boil process. I bought this hop sampler from Seven Bridges Cooperative, which provides an excellent array of hop varieties to try out. Perfect for small batch brewers.
Pelleted Organic American Bravo Hops